Planned Parenthood suspect declares guilt
COLORADO SPRINGS — The man accused of killing three people during an attack on a Planned Parenthood clinic bellowed in court Wednesday that he is a “warrior for the babies.”
Robert Lewis Dear, 57, declared his guilt and said there would be no trial. He was in court to be formally advised of the 179 charges against him, including murder, after a shooting rampage Nov. 27 in Colorado Springs that also wounded nine people.
Authorities said Dear mentioned “no more baby parts” during his arrest. Dear's attorney said the suspect's mental competency must be investigated before the case proceeds.
“I'm a warrior for the babies,” Dear hollered, his wrists and ankles shackled. Dear repeatedly interrupted his attorney during the hearing and said he wouldn't meet with him again. It wasn't immediately clear what impact his outbursts might have on the case against him since he was not being asked to enter a plea on Wednesday.
Colorado prosecutors have not yet said whether they'll pursue the death penalty in the case. Dear is being represented by the same public defender who led the defense of Aurora theater shooter James Holmes, who received a life sentence instead of death for the 2012 on a suburban movie theater. Holmes in that case pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity.
In court, Dear referenced the Holmes case, and rejected the idea that he be medicated and said he didn't want to undergo a mental-health exam.
“Do you know who this lawyer is?” Dear said. “He's the lawyer for the Batman shooter who drugged him all up. That's what they want to do to me.”
Dear's former wife says he is a deeply religious but conflicted man who likely targeted the clinic because of its abortion-related activities. In a statement, Colorado-based Planned Parent hoodofficials called the attack a “horrific tragedy.”
Said Vicki Cowart, CEO and President of Planned Parenthood of the Rocky Mountains: “We know that words matter. It is time to put an end to the dangerous rhetoric that has permeated our political conversations. Enough is enough — this violence, whether inflicted with words or with weapons, cannot become our normal.”
Abortion-rights groups say the publication of a series of videos purporting to show clinic workers across the country offering to sell fetal tissue have led to a surge in violence against abortion clinics. Planned Parenthood says women undergoing abortions are given the opportunity to donate tissue for research purposes, and that the videos were deceptively edited.
Dear could also face federal charges, although the U.S. Attorney's Office in Denver said its current focus is on assisting with the ongoing investigation. Federal prosecutors could also seek the death penalty.